We are only days away from hearing the cries of fabulously rich footballers about how boring it is lying beside a pool in the scorching Brazilian sunshine, playing rounds of golf in some of the most spectacular locations on the planet and being waited on hand and foot in five star accommodation as they prepare to represent their country at a World Cup. But what have we learned over the past week about these “hard done by” professionals?
Here’s your dish on what’s been getting the experts talking over the past seven days.
Ed Chamberlain on Brazil
Sky Sports columnist Ed Chamberlain feels off field problems could become an unwanted feature if the host nation fails to triumph at the greatest show on the planet. The build up to the major sporting event has left a lot to be desired, and with political unrest dominating the headlines in Brazil, Neymar and co. carry the expectations of a nation on their shoulders.
Such strife has become an all too familiar feature in the build up to the competition, with South Africa also experiencing a wave of negativity when the carnival was in town in 2010. Nonetheless, Chamberlain believes Brazil will “thrive” and says they have the “best back four by a distance”. The only hiccup on the home nation’s path to glory, however, could be a “nightmare” draw in the last 16, with a “brilliant” Chile side a possible party pooper.
Guillem Balague on Cesc Fabregas
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague says Cesc Fabregas is being “pushed out” of Barcelona but will “take his time to find the right club”. Reports coming out of Spain suggest that the Catalan born midfielder is set for a move back to the Premier League, with Chelsea and Manchester United possible locations.
The ex-Gunner has failed to replicate the form that sanctioned him a move from Arsenal in 2011 due to Barca’s more disciplined, tactical style of play. It would appear that the Spanish side are keen to recoup at least 35 of the 40 million euros they paid for him three summers ago. Interestingly, Balague claims that Arsenal have no intention of bringing Fabregas back to North London, while also saying that nothing has been agreed with Chelsea despite media reports coming out of Catalonia. His final destination remains uncertain.
Paul Merson on England
Soccer Saturday regular Paul Merson expects England to get to the quarter finals of the World Cup, at least. Roy Hodgson’s squad recently arrived in Miami as they continue their preparations for the competition, where they will spend a week acclimatizing and playing two warm up games before flying to Brazil.
Merson doesn’t think England’s group is too difficult and feels they could “get lucky”. He also noted that Liverpool duo Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling could be “two stars of the show” if they feature and believes that Daniel Sturridge could get “three of four” goals if they play the right way.
Dylan White, Pundit Arena.